9 Geeky Gateway Activities to Get You Fit

This is a guest post from George Titsworth over at GeekIntoShape.

We geeks have an unfortunate dilemma when attempting to go from geek to super awesome fitness geek of infinite power.

Our hobbies — gaming, coding, reading, correcting people on the internet — tend to be measured in hours and days of time commitment and normally involve some sort of social commitment as well — guild raiding, project deadlines, book club meetings, a lot of dumb people on the internet that need to be corrected. Adding a new heavy time commitment like proper nutrition and exercise seems like an impossible thing to do with all of our other interests and commitments.

But don’t feel like you don’t have time to get fit, and don’t feel like if you dive in to fitness, you will have to leave your geeky hobbies behind. There are so many ways to merge fitness into your geeky lifestyle and incorporate your geeky lifestyle into fitness. And that is exactly what this list is intended to help you out with.

So dial in the 9th chevron, because we are about to open a gateway to new fitness worlds…

Note: the goal of this list is not to get you to peak physical performance (I’ll leave that job to Steve and the Nerd Fitness Rebellion), but rather to give you fun ways to kick start the transition to a healthy lifestyle.

1) Paintball

Put down the the controller, take off the headset, and get thee to a paintball field! You may think nothing is more fun than owning newbs on the console, but wait until you pull off a double kill of colorful bliss with your semi-automatic paintball gun.

Note: I do not claim responsibility for you lack of leet-ness on the paintball field. Not only do you get to have fun fragging your friends, but a half day of paintball is one hell of a workout. You will be running, squatting, crawling, and more!

Some estimates show that ~400 calories are burned during an hour of paintball. The best part is, the adrenaline from the battle keeps you from feeling fatigued like individual exercises might. This means you often get a 2-4 hour workout without even noticing it.

2) Martial Arts

Two words: Cobra Kai. Who wants to let those tools run the place?

I sure don’t.

That’s why martial arts is number two on my list. Whether you focus on Jujitsu, Karate, or Taekwondo, practicing any form of martial arts is a fantastic way to get fit — build strength, master body control, and boost mental focus — you will get it all.

Most schools that teach martial arts have fantastic programs and classes that accommodate for novices and experts alike for a reasonable cost. You even get colorful belts as you level up – that’s right, a real-life achievement reward. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a ninja? So find do some dojo research around your town and find your very own Mr. Miyagi – and get one of those cool spinnung hand drums while your there.

3) Hashing

I have to thank Branwyn32 from the Nerd Fitness Community Forums for letting me know about hashing. The international group called the Hash House Harriers is, in a simple phrase, a “drinking club with a running problem.”

While there is not anything inherently geeky about hashing, the open and social atmosphere makes it a perfect gateway activity for anyone with an adventurous side and a good sense of humor to get into running. Hashing is basically a bunch of people following a leader down a trail, normally non-established (through urban areas, woods, etc.), that usually ends at bar serving some good brew.

The trails are often set up so it can accommodate all fitness levels and running speeds, though don’t think it is just a walk in the park. Some clubs even celebrate the person who comes in DFL (Dead F-word Last) with extra booze… and who doesn’t love extra booze. Find a local hash near where you live!

4) Disc Golf

You might be asking how disc golf made my list. Well, because: I love disc golf!

I suppose I relate disc golf to geeky activities because this was where my computer science buddies and I would go to blow off some segmentation fault steam. The game is simple, get the Frisbee in the basket in the fewest tosses possible and repeat. All you need to get started is a basic Frisbee or you can spend a little extra to get specialized disc made for long distances or slower discs for putting.

In the past, there were only a few dedicated courses to play disc golf on, but there has been an explosion of new, free disc golf courses: on university campuses, in parks, on green-ways. One rule my friends and I like to add to is no walking. Run everywhere — after drives, between holes, everywhere. Doing this always adds enough movement to the game to get a great workout and have a great time by yourself or with friends.

5) Zombie Walk

Zombieland Rule 1: Cardio. Rule 19: Blend in. Well you can knock out two birds with a single stone by going on a zombie walk. Zombie walks have been gaining popularity over the last few years, and I think that’s awesome-sauce.

Zombie-fy yourself and then go for a long walk with hundreds of your un-dead kindred. Zombie walking not enough for you? Some places have even been starting up Zombie 5k’s. I can’t think of a better time than running my ass off while dressed as a zombie Vanilla Ice.

Ice Ice Braiiiinnnnssss.

6) LARPing

I have never been live action role playing (LARPing), but I will be the first to admit that it looks freaking fun.

Now, I know this activity is considered by many to be radically geeky (Lighting Bolt!), but who wouldn’t want to don some epic armor and smash some skulls? Many approaches can be taken for a LARP event, from a theatrical event to a full fledge role playing game with quests, boss fights, and mass battles.

Most LARPing events take place in a large open field or wooded area, so there is plenty of room to run, duck, jump, and fight — the perfect way to get a full body workout. The cost of LARPing can vary. The upfront cost of buying a costume can be a big expense, but most events are relatively cheap – between $5 and $50 normally.

If you are a big RPG fan, I highly suggest searching for a local LARPing group. Stop sitting at a table rolling dice or clicking a mouse and start running through the wood swinging a mace! +5 to Dexterity. -5 to Flab.

7) Geocaching

So I have mentioened ways to become a ninja. And I given you tips on how to become a zombie… What’s next? You guessed it:


The internet and GPS enable smartphones have brought treasure hunting back to the masses. Geocaching is basically a game of high-tech hide and go seek. People plant hidden treasures (caches) and provide clues on how to find the treasures. Your mission is find the caches with the help of GPS and good ol’ fashion brain power.

While some geocaches will take you across a city, some are localized to a smaller area, which is great for running and biking from treasure to treasure. The Groundspeak iPhone app for geocaching is a great tool to get out and find caches near enough to walk, run, or bike, making for a great day of fun physical activity. So get out there and hunt some treasure (you get bonus points if you do it with a parrot on your shoulder).

8 ) Kendo/Kenjutsu

While Kendo technically falls into the category of martial arts, I had to list it separately because of it’s incredible radness.

I spent upwards of 1 trillion hours watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid, and I loved Leonardo. Why? Because he was the leader, and leaders carry giant swords. Like Master Splinter taught the turtles, Kendo teaches you mold the mind and body and always strive for improvement. It is a great way to get fit while learning fun skills at the same time.

I only caution you to wait until you have trained a few months before moving to a real sword. You have been warned. Cowabunga.

9) Wii Fit

And, of course, a list of geeky things to help get you fit is not complete without mentioning Wii Fit. Play video games and exercise at the same time. You can’t beat that. ‘Nuff Said.

What geeky things do you do to get fit?

The list doesn’t stop here. I’m sure there are things that you do every day that I haven’t even thought about. So please post a comment and tell me and the other readers your favorite geeky activities that launched you into the world of fitness.

What else would you YOU add?


George Titsworth is a father, MMO geek, and software developer who is in the process of converting his flabby software into rock solid hardware. He blogs at GeekIntoShape.com and you can follow him on Twitter @geekintoshape.

Photos courtesy of: the name is josh, kaibara87, silent7seven, .Mitch, JamesMalone, William Hook, fighter-arts, and jk5854

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46 thoughts on “9 Geeky Gateway Activities to Get You Fit

  1. Geocaching is the best. 🙂 Me and two of my friends do it once a month… doesn't help that it's usually in the middle of the night.

  2. My gateway activity was Ultimate Frisbee. I've played the sport casually since college, but when I joined a league in my city I had to step it up a notch. There are some bonafide athletes that play Ultimate and my casual “run when I feel like it” attitude was getting me nowhere. After my first few seasons I decided to really train and get in shape. Yadda, yadda, yadda… I've since lost 70 pounds and have an insatiable desire for chasing that silly piece of plastic everywhere.

    Ultimate stats:

    Fitness: 11
    Geekiness: 7
    Cost: 1

  3. I really want to give hashing a shot, but I don't drink. Maybe I'll just carry a root beer bottle and pretend it's beer!

  4. I would think that geocaching at night would be awesome. Gates could be closed. Might have run from security guards. I'm going to have to try that 🙂

  5. We've had the cops called on us twice… guess it does look a little suspicious when there are three or four people crawling around under a tree in the park at 2:30 AM with flashlights looking for a cache. Luckily, we were able to evade the authorities – but be warned, caching at night is dangerous. My friend, she fell into a large hole on an embankment and almost got her leg stuck.

  6. Don't feel bad if you don't drink! We have quite a few hashers that don't! Usually there will be sodas and water for non-drinkers, and for the down-downs at the end, you can either do it with soda or have someone do it for you.

  7. YAY HASHING FTW! I is the most famous hasher on all your internets! We actually have alot of really geeky folks that hash too! I never liked running and really couldn't run before, but now I hash twice a week! I walk alot of it and am starting to be able to intersperse it with running, and there are plenty of other walkers too, so hashers definitely welcome all levels!

  8. Agreed on the Fitness being turned up to 11. I used to play UF, but when I started getting fat, I stopped. I should have just kept playing because it is mega fun and a great workout.

    Actually, come to think of it, everything is better when you turn it up to 11.

  9. I like joggling–a combination of juggling and jogging. Currently, I'm training to be able to joggle all the way through a 5k. There's definitely a nerd factor there.

  10. That is awesome…. You could Joggle. Then you could unicycle and joggle. If we could figure out a way to do this while swimming, we would be able to do a juggling triathlon!

  11. I saw a joggler during my Half too! It was pretty awesome.

    I love me some paintball but I sold my gun when I moved away from home. Paintballing's a big thing in San Diego. Love it.

    My geeky gateway activity? Scuba. You need a regulator, a BCD, and a wetsuit to scuba. And you have to take a test.

    But I want to learn how to surf, rock climb, and cartwheel this summer 🙂

  12. I am SO into the Ninja thing. It's sweet that the martial art I'm taking is 80% ninjitsu, and then when one of the guys in the dojo gets his ninjitsu shodan (black belt) i'll be able to get back into the bujinkan. I love being a ninja especially since people don't quite believe me sometimes when I say it. The other day, I was so good at disappearing, that at the dojo they all thought I was in the washroom, but really I wasn't, I needed to be alone and not bothered and I disappeared. They sent out a search for me after about an hour I think. So cool.

  13. Try Historical Fencing/WMA/ HEMA- you get to learn to use weapons from longsword to walking stick, or simply fist and foot, be active, do academic research, learn history and weird facts by proxy (did you know JiuJitsu was an integral part of the Suffragette moevement?), watch sword films and correct the actors and all the while looking cool.

    I started as a fat nerd when I was 11 with Classical Fencing and now, twenty years later, have travelled the world learning and teaching various Arts from the C16-20th. I even know people who were inspired to get PhDs because of their love of the subject- ladies like intelligence, romance AND armour 😉

  14. I finally found our local hash group… I was going to go on the Jun 5 hash, but ended up and went out of town… So I plan on going to the June 26 one. Pumped!

  15. First, Stargate is an awesome movie.

    Second, after watching The Mentors, I'll admit I wanted to give LARPing a try.

  16. I would assume that you could break away from the Zombie Walk and try to satisfy you brain craving. As long as you don't mind being double tapped. Unless, of course, you want to fight the Zombies, in which you could just go to a Zombie Walk and start swinging a bat!

    Note: I do not promote violence unless you are in a real zombie apocalypse.

  17. Just found your site, and love it. As the kids/memes say “it is relevant to my interests” ;D (Video game producer and fitness enthusiast and all around dork). I am a stargate NERD so I already approve of this post. My dorky fitness thing is DDR, it's my cross training during half marathon training (and well, all the time). Looking forward to catching up on more of your blog…

  18. Our Barony of Loch Salann in the SCA ( http://sca.org/ )–in which sword fighting is an optional LARP-ish component—has found no problem with drinking buddies one of whom is downing root beer while the other has lager. Of course we're in Salt Lake City, Utah . . .

  19. LARPing all the way, though for a workout I suggest looking for some boffer larping as opposed to the interactive theater stuff, since some of those might involve an entire weekend of talking, which doesn't help the cardio as much.

    If the medieval outfits seem a little too geeky, try to find a Lovecraftian 1920's LARP or some other alternative (while I did not check them out I know sourcelarp does post-apocalyptic zombies). Nothing helps the fitness like running up a large hill at top speeds to get away from some tentacled horror…

  20. The groundspeak app isn't all that great because the iPhone's GPS isn't all that accurate. It's incredibly discouraging to not be able to find your first “easy” cache because your GPS thinks you're on the other side of the park.

  21. I just tried geocaching for the first time this weekend in an Ohio state park while we were camping.  It took me 3 different tries to find the cache which ended up being a LOT of walking & hiking – way more walking than I would have ever done on my own around my block with no treasure at the end.  I can’t wait to do more 🙂

  22. Well, I didn’t go to that one either… but about a year later I finally went and I go as often as I can now. It’s a blast – that is: It’s a blast if you like drinking beer, running, dirty jokes, and public nudity 🙂

  23. My  second fav nerdy fitness routine(LARP is by far the best) is make an obstacle course with random stuff from the garage/Lowe’s and do it. get a stopwatch and see how fast u can do it. try to reduce your time.

  24. Well, I love games and stories and my smart phone, so I just tried to run, Zombie, Run app and it got my moving. To be honest, I can’t realistically run during the entire challenge so I am now also trying a couch to 5K podcast. It is made for lazy people like me and I at the end I should be able to run more than a few feet. Sigh.

  25. It took several years of “trying” to get fit before I actually got serious. I realized, thankfully, that working out can be fun. Sure, I’ve got my normal bodyweight and interval workouts, but it’s immensely freeing to know that hey, today was supposed to be intervals, but my buddies want to play Ultimate Frisbee. Guess what? I can get a kick-butt workout in chasing that plastic disc. You can even game-ify it by award points for different accomplishments. You get 1 point for every completed pass, 1 point for every caught pass, 2 for a blocked pass, 3 for a touchdown throw or catch, and bonuses for when you absolutely trash somebody or lay out for a catch. 😀

  26. What about Pump It Up, or it’s original (and inferior) version, the DDR? Used to hang out a lot at the arcade because of this during my middle school and early high school… I joined tournaments, met people… even now as a med school graduate I visit an uncrowded arcade every once in a while because it makes a GREAT workout, and it is quite fun and inexpensive.

  27. You have Kendo but not fencing? Fencing is super nerdy! You should hear two fencers talking about electric box scoring circuits, or the electric receiver points on blades XD

  28. so glad to see geocaching on the list. Been doing it since 2003. It can be as mellow or as strenuous as you want it to be, depending on which caches you do. I love to cache when I’m traveling….it takes me to local places I’d never normally see. I’ve always thought of caching as the sport that gets geeks off the couch and away from the computer into the woods….of course after consulting http://www.geocaching.com online, to plan your trip, then logging online after…..best of both worlds. Cheers.

  29. There’s an app on Android called Zombies Run, it uses the GPS to put zombies on the map of the area around you and you have to literally run away from the virtual zombies. It’s pretty damn awesome and makes running a bit more fun 😀

  30. …and debating what olympic fencing event is the most authentic, and attending SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) reinactments of fictional battles, and so on. Fencing is absolutely the nerdiest sport in existence lol, but I suppose it could be sort of loosely linked to Kendo. Definitely a great workout, I used to fence outdoors regularly and you sure do work up a sweat in that padded gear.

  31. I want to add NIA dance. A dance movement excercise that makes me smile for the entire hour of the class. NIA is offered by some yoga studios and independent instructors. Go to http://www.nianow.com/ to find a class. For me it was love at first sight.

  32. LArp for the win (yes the caps are intentional). I prefer Dagorhir boffer fighting because the emphasis is more on the Live Action (hitting each other). It also brings a connection with my wife, who, despite my best efforts at corruption, remains a jock. BTW several hours of combat is the best stress reliever I can think of. This will also give Rebels a place to apply the strength and conditioning they are gaining.

  33. Being a radio ham, I discovered Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) many years ago. It’s a combination of orienteering and radio direction finding that tests the brain and ends up with several kilometres of running around wooded areas looking for those elusive transmitters! 🙂

  34. Roller Derby. Nerdtastic. A passionate powerful sport fuelled by geeks with alter egos who obsess over wheels, think safety is sexy and luuurve to hit each other. For me Derby has ignited a belief in being the best I can be.

  35. You should add walking outside to triangulate the GPS position of hacker to this list! My friend Tiny Url used to always say to me: “aqnwxarbn”. I never knew what that meant, but he always said it 17 times. Also, I think there is a message hidden in this post somehow, but I don’t have any ideas how this puzzle works.

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